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A Legacy For The Ages: An Exclusive Interview With Guitarist JANICK GERS Of IRON MAIDEN

By Brian Davis, Contributor
Thursday, August 15, 2019 @ 6:52 AM

"Itís about the most enjoyable set I can remember playing in a long time"

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Live Photos By Travis Failey And Larry Petro

The summer of 2019 sees seminal British Heavy Metal icons IRON MAIDEN return to North America for an extensive tour designed to emphasize and reinforce the single most important aspect of this trend-defying Metal juggernaut: Legacy. Few Ė if any Ė bands have managed to sustain their fan appeal and desirability at a fever pitch throughout decades of a changing world better than IRON MAIDEN, primarily with rich, vividly textured songs that are entire worlds unto themselves, brought to life throughout the years by ever-consistent and impassioned musicianship from one show to the next ad infinitum. And now, with the convenience and connectivity of modern media, theyíre able to celebrate their enduring career via the exceptionally well-developed iOS game ďLegacy of the BeastĒ, a digital app that immerses players into the various darkly fantastic worlds of IRON MAIDENís musical catalog both visually and aurally (MAIDEN tunes play as you slay), deftly shepherding new generations into the MAIDEN flock while literally setting the stage for the bandís most ambitiously elaborate stage setting ever.

Just as the game follows the bandís infamous mascot Eddie [The Head] through entire worlds embodied by various IRON MAIDEN songs, the stage set expands the ďLegacy of the BeastĒ to a full live spectacle complete with larger than life set pieces, rare song performances and 110% adrenaline & effort that take the bandís already-legendary reputation to awe-inspiring new limits. Coming from a band known for setting the standard of high energy, elaborate live performances this is no small feat, but if youíre still not convinced look no further than the obvious excitement of guitarist Janick Gers as he details what fans can expect from the show, what makes them put so much sincere effort into their performances and discusses IRON MAIDENís multi-generational legacy with infectious excitement and anticipation for what will surely be the greatest live IRON MAIDEN spectacle of all time.

KNAC.COM: Hello, Janick. Iím extremely honored to have this opportunity and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk. How is the tour?

GERS: Well thank you, yeah, the tour is going great so far.

KNAC.COM: So you guys have had time to settle into the tour now, itís a familiar set since you just did it in Europe pretty extensively last year. Do you find that itís easier to get into the flow after being familiar with it for all this time or is there just a standard gearing up process that takes a while?

GERS: Yeah, I mean physically you have to kind of work your way into the tour; itís a great set, weíre doing a lot of songs that we havenít really done before and I think a lot of people have never heard us play them. There are a couple songs that [singer] Bruce [Dickinson] didnít sing on originally, so that always takes some time to work that stuff out but overall yeah, weíre really having a good time. Weíve got 27 shows in 26 cities in the US, then weíre heading to Mexico, then Canada and down to South America, and the tour finishes towards the end of October. So yeah, Iím really looking forward to it; last year across Europe I had a fantastic time.

KNAC.COM: Throughout your careers you guys have been known for the amount of touring you guys do, itís so extensive and exceptional even after all these years. Is that a disciplined work ethic or is that just the way you naturally prefer to go?

GERS: In the past when we were a bit younger we did a lot of big tours but itís been cut down a lot now to between five and six month tours, then weíll take 6 months to charge our batteries and come back again. And thatís why weíre doing America now, because we did Scandinavia and Europe and Britain Ė all those places Ė then we took some time out and now weíre back. Weíve got a fantastic production with us Ė itís probably the biggest production weíve ever had. Itís all connected with the Legacy [Of the Beast] game, the mobile app, and itís based on different worlds throughout the app. Weíve tied the songs into that and itís just a fantastic tour. It was amazing last year and Iím hoping this tour will be just as exciting.

KNAC.COM: Iím sure it will be IRON MAIDEN isnít known for being a disappointing act. You mentioned the Legacy of the Beast game, which has been out for a few years now, and Iíve played it somewhat, I think itís fantastic. Itís actually really well developed game; anyone who is a fan of IRON MAIDEN or is familiar with [the mascot] Eddie is really going to love all the different versions and incarnations of him that you can play. I think it illustrates how in these days with the way media interacts with each other itís a good way to highlight the game as well as incorporating it in with your music and vice-versa.

GERS: Yeah exactly, thatís the whole thing Ė this tour is based around the game and the production is based around the game, itís the largest production weíve ever taken out, and I think it illustrates the interlocking worlds of the game and all the things surrounding it. Itís a great way to get our music out there as well so people can play the game and listen to the music; weíre not a band that gets a lot of airplay on the ďcommercial channelsĒ as it were, so itís a great way of getting our music out to the people and Iím all up for it. And with the fact that so many songs from the past as well - songs we havenít played in such a long time Ė itís a very varied set and itís just incredible to play; itís about the most enjoyable set I can remember playing in a long time.

KNAC.COM: And Iím sure thatís important, you play the same songs Ė more or less, you have a massive catalog Ė but still itís all material that youíre intimately familiar withÖ

GERS: Well we try to play songs that feel new to us and we try to put in songs that we havenít done in a long, long time and it just feels fresh; especially when youíre coming at it from a different angle. Even when youíre working on the production for these songs itís incredible Ė I mean the backdrops and things that are happening onstageÖitís just incredible.

KNAC.COM: And thatís kinda what I was figuring Ė it helps for you guys as well to have these additional perspectives and different ways to look at the music. For example, you have a 33í replica WWII Spitfire plane during the opener ďAces HighĒÖ

GERS: *Giddy laugh*

KNAC.COM: Is that the kind of example that enhances it for you and gives it something extra that makes it feel new all the time?

GERS: Iíve gotta say Ė when we play a gig, itís a new day, itís a new gig Ė itís so exciting to go out there and play with this great production behind you and play these great songs. Itís just really exciting for the band to go out there with a different production and to bring it to a new place. And we always try to play new places every tour, we try as much as possible to get to somewhere new; we did El Salvador and other places we hadnít been before. And the excitement of playing live Ė thatís what the bandís about! That Ė to me Ė is where all the excitement comes from. To come and play across America on the tour weíre doing now Ė which is quite an extensive tour Ė we try to include a couple places where they havenít seen us for years. So itís a whole brand new thing weíre bringing out and itís exciting! And thatís what a live show should be, you know? Every night we go out there and we just want to give as much as we can possibly give, and thatís for everything Ė we want the production to be good, we want the plane to be spot-on, Bruce is sing amazingly on this tour Ė itís just so exciting to go out there and prove we can still do it.

KNAC.COM: And you guys keep proving it, extensively. Having seen you in the past one of the most incredible things Iíve noticed with bands like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST is that when you go to these shows now Iím blown away by the generations of fans; you see the old school MAIDEN fans there with their sons and daughters who are now grown up and are there with their sons and daughters Ė itís three generations of fans all sharing this incredible moment with you guys and youíve crossed those age boundaries so flawlessly, youíve gathered this amazing fan base by being so loyal with your music and to your fans. Thatís something thatís profoundly impactful throughout the entire world.

GERS: I think weíre very lucky to have a young audience as well as all the people that come that have been with the band for years, and I think thatís because of our sense of honesty; weíve always done what we believed in. We never tried to change or fit in with the fashions and the trends; and I think itís just an honesty about the standard Ė we go out and we give everything, weíre known as a pretty amazing live band but thatís because we really care about everything, itís really important. You get a lot of bands who will do the one-off gig, you know Ė theyíll come to London and then theyíll go up to the Provinces and not play so well & not take so much gear; we take our gear everywhere, we give everybody the best show we can possibly give Ďem. We have an honesty & integrity about this band and I think thatís why weíve held on to a younger audience as well as our older audience.

KNAC.COM: Thatís absolutely true, youíve always held to your level of professionalism and performance without getting lazy and just kind of resting on your laurels.

GERS: Itís 110% every night; every single night, I donít care where we are. It doesnít matter whether weíre in Chili, Argentina, New York, L.A., Seattle, U.K. Ė itís the same show every night; we give it our best. Thereís always differences inÖ you know, you may be outdoors in the rain and there might be a tornado coming, but we give everything weíve got and we give the best show we can possibly give every night. Thereís an integrity to that and I think thatís perhaps why weíve kept our audience.

KNAC.COM: I certainly believe soÖwell, that and of course the amazing music, but certainly the amazing integrity thatís involved. So I know youíve gotta run, I really appreciate your having taken this time. Just quickly out of curiosity Ė are any of you gamers? Have you spent any time playing around with the Legacy of the Beast game?

GERS: No, Iím not personally a big gamer so I havenít but I couldnít speak for the rest of the guys. But I donít think my score will be hindering your high score, Brian, I think youíre well ahead of me (laughs).

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